Enjoy running and enjoy freedom

By Alessandra Ramella Pairin (ITA)

 

‘Pandemic’, ‘lockdown’, ‘quarantine’ are words I had only ever heard of in the history of economics. It was what happened centuries ago in Europe. Could it be a present-day emergency? Unfortunately - yes.

The first news came out of China in January. Then there were the first cases of tourists coming back from abroad and being hospitalised in Italy because of Covid. And then came our total lockdown at the beginning of March.

Within two days the country was shut up at home. There were no possibilities for people to go out for a breath of air. Families were divided. Only shopping for daily necessities was allowed. That moment was very hard. How would we survive?

 

The weather was showing the first signs of spring but we were shut up alone within four walls. At first people were singing or playing instruments on their balcony. It was a way of being close to each other, but news from the hospitals and from the cemeteries put a stop to these songs. Thousands of people were hit by the corona virus. In Italian ‘corona’ is a crown – something precious – but in the form of the virus this crown was not at all precious so calling it Covid 19 better expressed how bad it was.

 

The first question that we asked ourselves was: How long will we have to stay at home? The first announcement was for two weeks’ lockdown but the deadline was postponed to an indeterminate period of time.

 

This scared me and other people. My plans, my work and my hobbies all stopped at that point. I love sabre fencing and running. What could we do in this period of enforced inactivity? The rules allowed us to run alone within a 200m radius around our homes. But people inside their homes screamed at runners, thinking that they would spread the virus, so it was safer to stay at home.

 

I told myself: “Alessandra, what can you do against this lack of movement?” Training at home was the only solution. I had time; I was on an enforced holiday from my job and fitness. Yoga, physical preparation, challenges with fencing friends and specific training for fencing were my friends during this period.

 

I trained once or twice a day and time flew by very quickly. Many sports clubs helped sport lovers to keep their training going. Specific exercises to reinforce muscles and core stability let people avoid back pain or the limit weight gain that threatened as a result of Italian home cooking.

 

So, day after day and week after week, the great day of 4 May approached. This was the start of the so-called “Phase 2” in Italy. The number of infected people was decreasing and we could enjoy some freedom again.

 

I didn’t go running on that first day. I preferred to wait a few days for it and at the end of the week I reached Parco del Valentino, one of the most popular parks in my home town of Turin. I know this park very well; each metre is familiar to me since it was there that I had organised the start and finish areas of the Turin Marathon.

Running was never as nice as on 6 May 2020. Nature was gorgeous - more than other years at the same time. Flowers were everywhere. Birds and squirrels were giving runners their welcome back. It was wonderful. The kilometres seemed shorter than before Covid. I was so excited that I didn’t feel any pain in my legs and any shortness of breath, only joy and wellbeing!

 

People were different during those days. I saw something that has never happened before in my city. Around a very old tree in the park there was a handwritten notice that said “Do you want to adopt an aloe plant? Help yourself!”. At the bottom of the tree there were some small plants ready to find a new home.

 

We are now training outdoors both for running and for fencing. For running it is normal, for fencing not yet, but I hope that we can have our normal life back very soon. Before this Covid experience we had freedom but we didn’t fully appreciate it. These three months of nightmares have helped people to understand how running - and freedom – is so nice. So enjoy running and enjoy freedom!